4 ways patients can use dental benefits by end of the year

2022 09 09 22 42 1975 2022 09 12 Traeger Sarah 400

As the year comes to a close, you might be looking at your revenue numbers wishing they were a little higher. Your dental practice had a great year; however, you're hoping for that extra push that will set you up for success going into the new year.

Sarah Traeger.Sarah Traeger.

At Dental ClaimSupport, a strategy we always encourage our offices to implement is explaining to patients their maximum benefits. This is a logical, non-salesy way to get patients in the chair because it will also benefit them financially.

In this article, you will walk away with a solid strategy on how to fill your schedule toward the end of the year while also helping patients wisely use their dental insurance benefits before the new year.

1. Max out: Explain they are letting "free" money go to waste.

OK, OK. We know having dental care covered by insurance isn't free, but the vast majority of your patients will let coverage dollars go to waste. It's up to you to remind them to take care of their dental needs while the coverage is available.

Unfortunately, insurance benefits don't roll over to the next year. If you don't use it, you lose it. So your patient has a maximum amount of coverage, typically around $1,500 per year. If they only use $200 of it in one year, the difference of $1,300 is gone.

Now we understand this is insurance money and using it for a visit to the dentist isn't like a trip to Target. But even if your patient isn't exactly getting something "fun" out of it, they'll probably appreciate knowing they can take care of an important but unscheduled procedure that you've been waiting to put on the calendar. All that is necessary is to pick up the phone and explain this to them.

Once they realize they have a procedure they need to schedule and that their insurance will cover it, the patient will likely be happy to work out a time to come in to see you.

2. Split treatment: Be strategic about dividing up treatments to help patients make the most of their maximum.

Here's how you can really earn the patient's trust without coming across like you're just pushing for the sale. Helping your patients be strategic about dividing up their benefits maximum to help them save money is truly the most logical way to get them in the chair around the end of the year.

So how can one be strategic when it comes to fillings, crowns, and root canals? Here's an example:

It's November. Say Ms. Smith, who came in for cleanings earlier this year, learns she needs an implant. She's already used $500 of her $1,500 maximum benefits. This leaves her with $1,000 to use toward the implant.

Ms. Smith's implant includes three procedures: a titanium screw implant, an implant abutment, and an implant crown. These procedures can be spread out to maximize the use of Ms. Smith's benefits and save her money! Let's explain.

The titanium screw fee is $4,000. But because the dentist is in-network, the insurance contracted fee is lower at $3,200. Implants are considered a major coverage category which is paid at 50% in this example. She has $1,000 of insurance benefits left in the current benefit year.

So barring no deductible is applied and all the math is done, Ms. Smith can have this part of the implant she needs and pay only $2,200 out of pocket. See the example below:

  • $3,200 insurance contracted fee x 50% (major coverage) = $1,600 insurance share
  • $1,600 insurance share - $1,000 benefits left = $600 remaining out of pocket
  • $600 remaining out of pocket + $1,600 patient share of 50% major coverage = $2,200 total owed

If the patient waited to have all implant procedures done in the next year and not at least have the actual implant done in this year, the patient would have missed out on the $1,000 in benefits and paid that $1,000 out of her own pocket!

What about the rest of the procedure to finish the implant? After about 4 months, Ms. Smith will need an implant abutment, then an implant crown to complete the treatment. However, these procedures will be completed in the following year, right? So what just happened?

As her dentist you helped her by strategically dividing up each part of the treatment into separate visits, planning to complete her treatment in the new year when her benefits reload. You helped cover the cost of the entire treatment, dramatically improved the money ($1,000!) in Ms. Smith's pocket, and made a patient for life.

To sum up, scheduling part one of her implant, the titanium screw towards the end of the year, makes the most of her current benefits. Then, once Ms. Smith's benefits are renewed for the new year, she can proceed to have her implant abutment and implant crown done, covered by using her reloaded $1,500 max benefits. Make sense?

Explaining this to the patient will help them use dental insurance to their advantage while also getting a patient in the chair before the new year, bringing your office more revenue. At the same time, you're making your care most affordable for your patients.

3. Stay open: It's the time of year when they finally have time to go to the dentist.

Since the year is ending, that means winter holidays are coming up, which means a lot of people are getting some time off of work. Carving out time in a busy schedule to go to the dentist can be hard for some. Reminding patients that they do have some time to take care of oral health can be hugely beneficial to you and your patient.

Using a day they have off to check off some appointments they have been putting off is a perfect way for patients to use more of their benefits before the end of the year, even if it is just a cleaning.

4. Unscheduled treatment: Pick up the phone and get your patients in the chair.

It's time to pick up the phone and call your patients with unscheduled procedures. Take the time to understand each patient's circumstance, insurance, and treatment plan in order to explain each of these points to them.

Unscheduled treatments are both good healthcare and revenue opportunities. You may have many patients who have come in, and the dentist has created a treatment plan for them to return for, and the patient has not yet scheduled a time to return for treatment. This list of patients is who you should be looking into for calling.

Taking the time to do this will really help your patient while also helping your practice's Q4 revenue number go up.

Ready to build up that end-of-year revenue and help your patients?

Taking the time to talk to patients about each of their circumstances is what will bring them into your dental office. Understanding their benefits and their personal situation is how you're going to gain their trust and get them into the dental chair.

Whether it is explaining how to use the money their insurance provides, how to strategically divide up their treatment, or how to use their time off wisely, Dental ClaimSupport can help you strategize how to increase your revenue before the end of the year.

Sarah Traeger is the content manager for the dental billing company Dental Claim Support.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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